Skardu Capital of Baltistan is perched 2,438 metres above sea level in the backdrop of the great peaks of the Karakoram mountain range.
How To Get There?
Skardu is linked to the national capital, Islamabad by PIA which operates one flight daily. The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus river. Enormous rock faces rise on either side and at times it seems as if the wing tips of the plane would almost scrape against them. They never do.
Baltistan is known as the "Tibet-e-Khurd" or Little Tibet since its life-style reflects that of the roof of the World and Land of Lamas.It borders on the Chinese province of Xinjiang and Indian-occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27C and the minimum (October) 8C.
What To See?
Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and glaciers Baltistanís five valleys- Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears. Shigar valley, 32 kms. by jeep from Skardu is the gateway to the mountain peaks of the Karakorams. Skardu has a historic Fort atop a ridge known as the Mindoq-Khar or Castle of Queen Mindoq and three lovely lakes. The two- Kachura Lake 29 kms. and Stapra Lake 8 kms. from Sakrdu- are ideal for fishing.
WILD FLOWERS AND BROWN BEARS
The Deosai Plains are 32 km south of Skardu. This plateau is the habitat of the greatly threatened Himalayan Brown Bear and many other wild animals. At an average elevation of 3500 metres, Deosai is now a National Park and protected area for wildlife.
The rolling grassland here supports no trees or shrubs and the area is snow covered for seven months of the year. Spring comes to Deosai in August when millions of wild flowers begin to bloom all over the lush green grassland. This is a time when Deosai looks like a paradise with a landscape full of wild flowers on green rolling hills and crystal clear water streams with snow covered peaks in the background.
An adventure jeep safari will take you right across the beautiful mountain ranges of the Himalayas and the Karakorams Travelling on KKH, you will enjoy the most spectacular scenery on earth. Before reaching Deosai, you will also witness the magical views of Nanaga Parbat (8126 m), the ninth highest peak of the world. At Deosai, you first stop will be at Sheosar Lake. This place offers beautiful views of south fact of Nanga Parbat and a panoramic view of Deosai Plains. At Bara Pani, you can spend one day and visit the core of the National Park for Bear watching or you may enjoy fishing in the cold waters or Barwai Stream. From Deosai, you can travel back via Skardu and Gilgit to enjoy the most thrilling drive along the Indus River.
Permission for mountaineering and trekking is issued by the Tourism Division, Government of Pakistan, Opp: Pakistan Sports Complex, Kashmir Highway (Abpara), Islamabad. (Telephone: 92-51-9203509). Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department at Gilgit and Skardu.